Bittersweet: Sugar nightclub up for sale

The sale of Sugar is the “end of a 20-year art project” according to owner, DJ and artist Driller Jet Armstrong who is ready to move on from the beloved East End nightclub.

Jun 08, 2023, updated Jun 08, 2023
Sugar has hit the market. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily

Sugar has hit the market. Photo: David Simmons/InDaily

Rundle Street nightclub Sugar has hit the market today after entertaining crowds for two decades, but owner Driller Jet Armstrong hopes a new custodian will keep the good times rolling post-sale.

Speaking to InDaily, Driller said the move to sell the business was him “selling probably one of the best artworks [he’s] ever created”, and that he hoped the next proprietor would “keep the essential soul of it in place”.

The sale is for the business only, not the second-floor space on Rundle Street which the artist leases.

Established in 2002, Sugar hosted more than 870 international acts over its lifespan including the likes of Objekt, Honey Dijon, Bonobo, Ben UFO and Four Tet. It was also a hub for local DJs and promoters looking to build something fresh from the ground up, and a popular watering hole for lovers of dance music.

The club celebrated its 20-year anniversary in November last year, but closed for good in December with the owner citing ‘skyrocketing insurance premiums’ following the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the entertainment sector.

Credit: David Simmons | InDaily

Driller told InDaily that he hoped the spirit of Sugar would continue under new owners, but noted that the club was “an evolving experience”.

“We booked over 870 international artists and brought them all to Adelaide, which has completely died out,” he said.

“If we aren’t doing it, no one else is, especially not on a weekly basis. There’s a huge gap and there’s not many places you can go where you get a real mixture of people of different ages which is important.

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“I will definitely miss aspects of it, but it’ll also be a load off my mind to be honest.”

Whoever inherits the space will pick up where Driller left it, having renovated the nightclub in 2020 when the venue was forced to close for an extended period of time due to COVID gathering restrictions. The recently re-done pink interior was designed by his wife Mariot Kerr – an AACTA award winning costume designer.

“She designed it during COVID when the film industry shut down, so we were very lucky to have her,” Driller said.

The artist said since closing Sugar he’d been working on his art and DJing corporate functions and weddings.

“I’ve arrived at a place in my art that I am very happy with,” he said.

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